Texas A&M Commerce beats Harding 31-17 in D-II semifinal

COMMERCE, Texas (AP) — Luis Perez threw for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 90-yard hookup with D’Arthur Cowen that sealed Texas A&M Commerce’s 31-17 defeat of Harding on Saturday, sending the Lions to the Division II national championship game next week.

Commerce (13-1) will face West Florida (11-3) for the title next Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Harding scored on the game’s opening drive when Grant Kimberlin broke loose for a 51-yard run. Perez completed six of his first seven passes to move the Lions downfield and Commerce rallied for a 7-7 tie on a Gabriel Rodriguez run from the 2-yard line.

Kimberlin (107 yards) and Cole Chancey (98 yards) led the Bison rushing attack, which accounted for 260 of their 320 yards of total offense. The Bison led D-II with 53 rushing TDs and rushing yardage with 5,128.

Harding (11-4) fought back and trailed 17-14 in the fourth quarter before Texas A&M Commerce struck twice in the final nine minutes. Carandal Hale scored on an 11-yard run to push the lead to 24-14 and then capped it when Perez and Cowan hooked up for the 90-yarder.

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